Religiosity, Integration and Sport: Muslim Women Playing Australian Rules Football

Author/editor: Cheng, Jennifer E.
Published in (Monograph or Journal): Journal of Australian Studies
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Online
Year published: 2019
Volume no.: 43
Issue no.: 1
Page no.: p55-70.


This article explores the phenomenon of practising Muslim women
playing Australian Rules football (Aussie Rules). While Western
liberal-democratic governments have considered Islamic religiosity
to be contrary to Western liberal-democratic values and therefore
detrimental to integration, scholars and governments alike have
regarded sport as a major tool for enhancing social cohesion and
increasing social capital for ethnic minorities and marginalised
groups. In-depth interviews with thirteen members of the Auburn
Giants women’s football team demonstrate the limits of
conceptualising sport participation in binarised terms of
“integration” or “exclusion”, with findings providing nuanced
insights into how Muslim women perceive the relationship
between religion and playing competitive sport. The women
interviewed saw no compromise between their religious
adherence and their sporting commitments and ambitions to play
competitive Aussie Rules. While religion was found to guide
participants’ morals and behaviour, it did not feature as a
significant factor in their decision-making to play Aussie Rules.
Through discussions about playing the game, sports uniforms and
family perceptions, participant responses show that Islamic
religiosity comes in different shapes and forms. This research
advances the interdisciplinary study of sport, religion and culture
by deepening understandings of the relationship between gender,
Islamic religiosity and sport participation.

Updated:  26 June 2019/Responsible Officer:  Freilich Project/Page Contact:  Herbert & Valmae Freilich Project